The National Security Commission of Lithuania will verify whether the agreement between Lithuanian Railways and Belaruskali, according to which Belarusian fertilizers are transported through Lithuania, meets the interests of national security. The inspection will be held on the initiative of Marius Skuodis, the Minister of Transport and Communications of Lithuania. According to Skuodis, the further implementation of the agreement between Belaruskali and Lithuanian Railways on the transportation of fertilizers raises a number of national security issues.
Mantas Bartuska, the head of Lithuanian Railways, claims that there are no legal grounds for terminating the contract with Belaruskali, but the decision to stop transit can be made by the Lithuanian government, or European sanctions will be toughen. He reported on this to Marius Skuodis, the Minister of Transport and Communications of Lithuania, and Gabrielius Landsbergis, the Minister of Foreign Affairs.
The long-term connection between Belaruskali and Lithuanian Railways was signed in 2018. According to it, if one of the parties violates the terms of the contract, then it must compensate for the damage. Due to possible risks, from October 2021, Lithuanian Railways began to work with Belaruskali on a prepayment basis. So the company decided to protect itself in case the service is provided, but the payment at some point will be difficult to make.
«Since the services have been paid, we must fulfill the contract, because its termination requires either the decision of state bodies or the imposition of European sanctions so that we can make such a decision legally», – Bartushka explained.
The Head of Lithuanian Railways added that the current situation is unique and difficult, and requires a legal assessment in order not to cause serious financial consequences for Lithuania. According to the company’s estimates, they may lose up to 120 million euros due to sanctions against Belaruskali.
Since June 2021, the United States has imposed sanctions against Belarus three times. They came into force on December 8. The sanctions list includes Belaruskali, BelKazTrans, Absolutbank and others. At the same time, US sanctions do not directly apply to Lithuanian companies. Therefore, the further decision on the transportation of potash fertilizers from Belarus will depend on the decision of the state bodies of Lithuania and the position of banks regarding the processing of payment orders executed by Belaruskali.
Despite the US sanctions entered into force, Lithuanian Railways will still supply Belarusian potash fertilizers to the port of Klaipeda. It is expected that the cargo transport company of the LTG Cargo group will transport about 1 million tons of fertilizers in December. This means that 6-9 trains per day will continue to run through the territory of Lithuania.
"If we do not transport Belaruskali fertilizers from January 1, 2022, then our losses for the year will amount to about 49 million euros",– Bartushka said.
Gabrielius Landsbergis, Minister of Foreign Affairs of Lithuania, denied Bartushka’s words and spoke about the advance payments to Belaruskali.
«This is an atypical payment, this is a fact. If one of your colleagues suddenly transferred a lot of money to you, you’re probably wondering why it happened. And the fact that the company did not have such questions raises reasonable questions as to why this has happened»,– Landsbergis said.
Members of the Lithuanian Liberals’ Union discussed the possibility of compensating for financial losses. Eugenius Gentvilas, the head of the Union, stressed that Lithuania takes a clear value position on the issue of sanctions on Belarus.
It became known later that Gabrielius Landsbergis, the Minister of Foreign Affairs of Lithuania, intends to resign because of the situation with the transit of Belaruskali. He notified Prime Minister Ingrida Simonyte, but has not yet received a response.
«Yesterday I told the Prime Minister that I was ready to resign and waited for her to make a decision. I understand the reputational damage to Lithuania»,– Landsbergis said.
Ingrida Simonyte , Lithuanian Prime Minister, also confirmed that she had received a resignation proposal from Marius Skuodis, the Minister of Transport and Communications. According to the head of the Lithuanian government, a decision on these issues will be made next week.
«If the ministers resign, the legal situation under the agreement with Belaruskali will not change»,– Simonyte said. In this case, the resignation of ministers may be political in nature.
На русском языке:
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